When I was first exiled to Nomaville (’twas either that or reveal Her Majesty’s secret services), I was advised by No. 6, my fast friend on the welcoming committee, to never dine at any establishment festooned with flags. Doing so, he reprimanded, would mean that I had been in the presence of tourists, a scourge apparently second only to phylloxera in this wine-drenched burg. Flags, he explained, attracted the eyes of the naïve and appealed to some latent jingoism that simmered deep within their heartland hearts. I guffawed, he said gesundheit and I thought the matter closed. (Later, this same agent would disclosed his hatred of windsocks, the close cousin of the flag, which he observed are really just flags rolled into tubes. Mercifully, we never got to pennants, the haricots verts of banners, but I sleep safely swaddled in the notion that he despises them as well).
I acquiesced, if only temporarily, to No. 6’s peculiar proviso about flag-waving tourist traps until I felt I could adequately tell the difference between myself and a tourist, lest I accidentally board on the wrong bus and wake up someplace more far than near, less wine more beer.
Meanwhile, back in El Verano, that mythic province said to lay just over the defunct Riverside Bridge (which, for reasons beyond my political comprehension will not reopen until after the coming election) the local establishments are gleefully short on flags. This doesn’t mean the quaint hamlet is not amenable to tourists, but rather that it cares not to pimp itself out. As evidenced in Spitzy’s book column, the town’s history is steeped in a moral sepia-zone, rife with intrigue and local lore. By my reckoning, it’s only a matter of time until Sonoma’s numero uno walking-tour impresario George Weber finds an old timey El Veranon to add to his repertoire. While he’s busy building the west side market, Spitzy and I will hold down the Plaza gig doing George Weber impersonations for the clamoring hoards. Though it may seem awkward at first, that is, having the two of us simultaneously impersonating the dude (replete with hat, boots and mustaches), we’ll work in some “duality of man” type tripe, and turn the whole gig into avant-garde theater. To differentiate the two Georges, mine will wear a suit coat. George will be proud.
Unfortunately, I lack the Real George Weber’s encyclopedic grasp of local history. Or any history for that matter, seeing as my wine-addled mind no longer has the capacity for short-term, let alone long-term, memory. To wit, my inner experience is one of constant forward movement, you know, like the march of time itself. In this way I’m in synch with the universe, though my relationship with the fourth dimension has long been strained. I’ve been late since day one and it was for this same reason that I was slow to discover El Verano. I actually had to have our ace shooter drive me through today to take a gander, but I blinked and missed it so he had to drive me through again. To thank him I offered to a round at the Keeps, but he demurred.
“Do I look like I have hyperdontia?” he asked cryptically.
“What the hell is that?”
“Having more than the average number of teeth,” he said wryly.
“It’s talk like that’ll get a guy socked in the mouth,” I retorted.
He just shook his head took me to the Cheese Factory to look at the pretty flags.